2 Corinthians 13:14 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."
In the last two postings, we introduced readers to the doctrine of "Divine Simplicity". To recap what is meant by this idea of "Divine Simplicity", I'll refer readers to click on links to the previous two posts to review the full-discussion:
For those readers short-on-time, we can refer to theologian Wayne Grudem's summarization of the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity (oftentimes designated "DDS"), wherein he uses a synonymous term "unity":
"The unity of God may be defined as follows: 'God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times'. This attribute of God has also been called "God's simplicity', using simple in the less common sense of 'not complex' or 'not composed of parts'. But since the word 'simple' today has the more common sense of 'easy to understand' and 'unintelligent or foolish,' it is more helpful now to speak of God's 'unity' rather than his 'simplicity'. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 177).
Grudem then later notes:
"When scripture speaks about God's attributes it never singles out one attribute of God as more important than all the rest. There is an assumption that every attribute is completely true of God and is true of all of God's character." (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 178).
"For God Himself is His own nature. Therefore, in the same way, God is God, and He is this God."
The doctrine of Divine Simplicity, when allied with the doctrine of the Trinity, expresses not just any bare monotheism (such as found in Islam or some expressions of Judaism), but the specific, Trinitarian monotheism revealed in the Biblical text. Today's post will aim to show how the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity is compatible with the doctrine of Divine simplicity.
The Doctrine of The Trinity and The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity Can Work Together To Explain The Biblical Revelation Of God
Plank #1 of the Trinity: God is one in essence, i.e. A Biblical Monotheism
"There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience."
"The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto....".
The doctrine of the Trinity affirms that God is One God. When explaining this first plank to people, I like to use the phrase "compound unity" to segue into what would be the "second plank", which speaks to plurality of persons. When I say "compound", I'm speaking of the Persons of the Trinity. The term "unity" refers to the simple essence itself. Hence, the doctrine of the Trinity presents God as a compound (with respect to the members of the Godhead) unity (with respect to the essence). God is plural in Person while one in essence.
We must not conceive of the Divine essence as a "fourth" thing, such as an inert cloud, set along side the Three Persons. The next post will explore this second plank in further detail and how the three Persons and the Divine essence are inextricably bound as One God who is Father, Son and Spirit.
For now it is worth noting that with respect to Biblical monotheism, especially the full-orbed revelation of the doctrine in the New Testament, the Three Persons of the Trinity are the living relationship and communion that so defines the Divine essence of God.
More next time....